Guest opinion: Any federal tax increase will hurt Montana's middle class

2012-12-22T00:05:00Z Guest opinion: Any federal tax increase will hurt Montana's middle classBy JOE BALYEAT The Billings Gazette
December 22, 2012 12:05 am  • 

You don’t raise taxes in a recession. (August 2009)

I'll eliminate capital gains taxes for the small businesses and start-ups that will create the high-wage, high-tech jobs of tomorrow. ... I’ll cut taxes for 95 percent of all working families, because, in an economy like this, the last thing we should do is raise taxes." (August 2008)

"I am just listening to the consensus among people who know the economy best. And what they will say is that if you … increase taxes … when the economy remains somewhat fragile, that would have a de-stimulative effect and potentially you'd see a lot of folks losing business, more folks potentially losing jobs. That would be a mistake when the economy has not fully taken off." (January 2010)

The above quotes were emphatically repeated by Barack Obama. While I rarely agree with him, he had it exactly right. Economists left, right and center agree — you don’t raise taxes in a weak economy. Consider these quotes from a recent economic study done by former chairman of Obama’s own Council of Economic Advisers, Christina Romer: "Tax increases are highly contractionary."

"A tax increase of 1 percent of GDP lowers real GDP by roughly 3 percent."

"A tax increase is followed by a large and highly significant rise in the unemployment rate."

Translated into simple English, her warning is clear: Avoiding all tax increases (even on the rich) is more important to the workingman than it is to the wealthy. Why? Because raising any taxes has a magnified, negative effect on the private sector economy and jobs. And, to quote Obama himself, this is especially true in a fragile economy. This isn’t about the rich, folks, they’ll do just fine with or without a tax increase. This is about working-class Montana families.

In addition to the huge middle-class economic hit, the “fiscal cliff” tax increases also directly rob the middle class. Democrat proposals to lower the death tax exclusion from $5 million to $1 million will financially devastate many middle class Americans — not just those who own small businesses and farms — but even those who simply have committed no greater sin than having their own personal home paid off debt-free before they die. And Republican proposals to let the payroll tax cut expire will equally harm working-class families.

Finally, even the so-called “moderate” proposals to trade some tax increases in exchange for budget cuts are nothing but bogus political con-artistry. Not only will the tax increases destroy jobs, but these same budget cuts were already agreed to, and signed into law by Obama himself, back in the Budget Control Act of 2011. The budget cuts were already bargained off by D.C. liberals in exchange for conservative votes to raise the debt limit to $16.3 trillion. Yet, because nobody in Washington apparently has the backbone to carry through with necessary budget cuts that were already agreed to as a 2011 bargaining chip, D.C. politicians of all political persuasions are perpetrating an enormous hoax on the American people; trying to now re-use the same previously spent bargaining chip as leverage to raise taxes … severely damaging our economy, our jobs and our children’s future all in the name of petty class warfare politics.

Joe Balyeat of Bozeman is state director for Americans for Prosperity-Montanan. He is a CPA and former Montana state senator.

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